PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE LABONTE FAMILY
Special Delivery Lucy’s Love Bus brings integrative therapy to sick children
BY MARSHAL D. HANEISEN
ne day in June of 2016, Nicole LaBonte For Spencer, funding from Lucy’s Love Bus noticed that her 4-year-old son, Spencer, helped him attend a summer program through seemed lethargic. When dad Jamie the Colchester Parks and Recreation Department LaBonte picked his son up from daycare because it offered swimming. “He had missed out on the next day, he noticed that the capillaries in the so much as far as socialization with peer-age kids,” whites of Spencer’s eyes had burst. Nicole called the Fortune said. “Being able to go to camp was a huge pediatrician and insisted he be seen that day. benefit to him.” After an examination and several hours in the Nicole agrees. “For the weeks of summer camp, emergency room, Spencer he got to be a 5-year-old,” she was diagnosed with acute said. “To this day, he still talks lymphoblastic leukemia, a about camp. It was scary at type of cancer. first, it kicked his butt, but he “We were exhausted,” was happy. Him going to that said Nicole. “He was sedated program was more than I could for 12 days, and almost give him at home.” died twice. I was working Lucy’s Love Bus also helped overnight shifts while he build a network of support for was in the PICU, and my Spencer; he currently attends an husband was working days. afterschool program with some MASSAGE THERAPIST We barely saw our daughter, of the camp counselors, and ANNETTE MARGOT BROWNE Annaleigh. It was a very hopes to return to camp next difficult time.” summer. And there was a long Spencer undergoes monthly road ahead. Spencer experienced multiple chemotherapy, and his treatment will continue until complications and spent nearly eight 2019. The LaBontes won’t know if he is in remission months in the hospital that first year. until May of 2020, but in the meantime, Nicole and Then the LaBontes heard about a Jamie want to make sure he gets to be a kid. nonprofit organization that would help to “We don’t want him to live in fear of it. We try to lighten their load. Lucy’s Love Bus helps do everything we can to give him the best opportunito fund integrative therapies like massage, ties,” Nicole said. “It is hard to give up your reins of acupuncture, tai chi, music therapy and control when your child is sick. It was really hard specialized camp programs for kids being the first day at camp. But, he looked at me and said, treated for cancer and other illnesses. ‘Mom, I am OK.’” Adam Fortune, a pediatric hematology/ THE BUS GETS ROLLING oncology social worker at the University In 2003, Beecher Grogan’s 8-year-old daughter, of Vermont Children’s Hospital, connected Lucy, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. them to the organization. She received treatment at Tufts Medical Center’s “I always mention Lucy’s Love Bus to Floating Hospital for Children in Boston. Thanks families,” said Fortune. “I find that families to donations from family, friends and community that access the services tend to feel better members, Lucy benefited from a range of integrative about being in the hospital … They also offer therapies including art and music therapy, massage, opportunities that families might have not and therapeutic horseback riding. been able to access without their support.”
NOVEMBER 2017 KIDSVT.COM
Having someone come into their room, offering something that is therapeutic but nonmedical, can be comforting.
Spencer LaBonte and family